The new POS and cards will start being distributed in January
The "la Caixa" and Visa Europe project will get underway over the next few days, with the roll-out of new POS and the first cards going into circulation. Over the first two months of 2012 the service is set to be available to 50% of "la Caixa" customers in Barcelona, while the issue of contactless cards is due to be completed over the second quarter of 2012. New ATMs, featuring contactless readers, will also start being rolled out in January. The aim is to have at least one contactless ATM at every Barcelona branch before the end of 2012.
Faster and more convenient micropayments
Contactless technology is intended to speed up customer payments and transactions. Transactions are made by holding the card next to the contactless reader terminal, whether this be a POS or ATM. The two devices connect by proximity, without the card having to be inserted, and the payment is made instantly. Contactless technology is considered the fastest card payment system currently available, making it an efficient alternative to physical cash. The system is particularly useful for micropayments and low value purchases, which are made far more conveniently and quickly by electronic means than by conventional methods. Low value contactless payments are also beneficial for businesses, particularly establishments that attract large numbers of people, such as fast-food restaurants, taxis, newsstands, cafés and restaurants, supermarkets, tourist shops, etc. "la Caixa" believes these sectors, which process large volumes of transactions, will benefit most from the cards.
The contactless system is fully secure and includes EMV technology (the chip currently used in cards). For purchases of over €20 users will be required to enter their card PIN number to validate the operation. For lower value operations, where the contactless system has the most potential, users can complete transactions by simply bringing their card into close proximity with the in-store terminal. Furthermore, "la Caixa" ensures secure use of contactless cards thanks to its CaixaProtect guarantee; coverage that protects all of the bank's card customers from any fraudulent use of electronic payment methods. The "la Caixa" and Visa contactless system in Barcelona will be fully compatible with other cards and contactless payment devices issued by other banks, both domestic and international.
Contactless ATMs: a globally pioneering service
"la Caixa" is the world's first bank to develop ATMs with built-in contactless readers. These ATMs can identify customer cards without requiring that they be inserted manually. "la Caixa"'s new contactless ATMs represent a further step forward in the bank's strategy to improve customer service via innovation. With some 8,000 ATM terminals, "la Caixa" has the largest ATM network in Spain and the second largest in Europe. This new technology is particularly helpful for the physically disabled, who find it easier to use ATMs with contactless technology. As well as the greater accessibility it provides, all "la Caixa" customers will benefit from faster operations at ATMs using the contactless card system.
ATMs with built-in contactless technology will also be compatible with all other contactless payment supports, such as NFC-ready mobile phones, which were used during the first mobile payment trial in the Spanish city of Sitges. More than 1,500 users and 500 businesses took part in this NFC pilot project, Europe's largest. The enthusiastic reception that the mobile payments system attracted saw the project's backers decide to leave the NFC infrastructure in place indefinitely for shops and customers.